Buying a 300zx I need help

Thread in 'Drifting Chat / Pictures / Videos' started by Daniel009, Nov 8, 2017.

  1. Daniel009

    Daniel009 New Member

    Nov 8, 2017
    Likes Received:
    Las Vegas
    hey guys so I’m thinking of buying a 1990 300zx and this car might be my first project car I’m 16 so my knowledge about cars isn't that great but I found a 1990 300zx for 1000 dollars and it’s pretty beat up the paint is bad and the interior is alright so I wanted to know if it’s a good idea to buy it and if I do what should I look for when inspecting it.
  2. Saddened

    Saddened Member

    Jul 11, 2016
    Likes Received:
    Leinburg, Germany
    An old nissan, especially 300ZX will be a great learning experience. Will not be a great budget or quick project though as it will hardly see road.

    With limited knowledge, skills, space and money you will probably not be doing bodywork. Basic rust repairs maybe. Making it look good, not so much. It is actually a lot easier to swap engines than it is to make a car pretty.

    Find a car that looks good on the outside. No rust bubbles, no dings. A scratch here and there can be polished out. If you can avoid body and paint repairs you are already a step ahead. And saving a lot of money that will have to go towards maintenance.

    When you get to their house let them know beforehand that you will be examining the car. Some people don't like that, but it is essential .

    Turn on the car in idle. On any car what you want is to hear it run. Let it warm up while you inspect it.
    Jot down notes one under the other. You can add estimated repair costs later.

    Start at the front, stand 15 feet from the car, look for missing trim, pieces, mistakes in body and paint.
    Go towards drivers side, do the same. Go around back, look for cracked tail lights, look for aftermarket exhausts that might not pass inspection. Go around passenger side. If your notes say you have a lot of work by this point, thank the owner and walk away. (Exception being if you are looking for a sad looking car that runs well because you are a skilled body and paint worker, sorry for my english). Check rims for damage. Minor damage such as curb rash and scuffs can eb adressed at home with patience. Dents not. Check the tyres. Can't perform a test drive without good grip.
    If body needs work, walk away.

    Open drivers doors, listen for cracks and thumps. Check under dash for possible nests of wire (alarm, stereo, lights that someone did a poor job installing). Sit behind the steering wheel. Go left to right, try everything electric. Folding mirrors, indicators, pop up lights, radio, everything. Jot down. Try steering wheel lock to lock, try handbrake. Try clutch by holding hanbrake and releasing clutch to see where it grabs. Should start grabbing at the middle, not the last few mm. Look for missing trim and rips in the interior fabric on the opposite side.
    If major electrics don't work, walk away.

    Go around to passenger side and check the door. Fold the seat. Check rear for missing pieces and rips. Check ceiling. Sit in the seat and check drivers side. Always check from distance, hence opposite side. Check if sunroof works. Check between the seals if there is water residue.

    Check the trunk for missing pieces, especially parcel shelf, factory tool set, trunk bottom. Lift trunk carpet and with a strong light (cell phone flashlight is ok) check for dampness and rust. Wherever there are opening in the cabin as well as trunk, shine under them for rust. Check as much as you can without taking apart. Pull the carpet where possible (front seat foot area).
    If rusty, walk away!

    Ask them to sit with you for a test drive (if you don't drive ask them to drive). Go for a mixed cycle. Slow and bumpy in residential area, then fast with sudden acceleration and sudden braking on open road. Doesn't have to be more than 10 miles.
    Check for petrol fumes in the air, check air conditioning, check for any noises. Thumps, screeches and try to locate them. Even if the car is old a noise menas something needs addressing. Go through all gears to check for noises. Listen to the turbo. Turbo should be heard but shouldn't surprise you with a strange tone.

    Get the feel for the steering wheel then on the way back try slaloming. It should not understeer too much. It should not change direction with too much delay. It should not make noises. On old cars and in dry areas rubbers parts go first. Strut tops, all the bushings. They are parts that you will most likely change anyway, but if you have plenty of other things to do it is nice if you can leave that for later. Noises during steering are not a big deal if you can locate them and they turn out to be rubber parts. If buying a car with an LSD. Do a burnout.

    When you return you get down under the car. If they let you use a jack, even better. Check driveway where you warmed the car for fluids. Turn off the car, check under engine for leaks. Check behind engine for leaks. If unsure wheter it is a leak or just greasy because it is old wipe the area and check again later. Check gearbox end for leaks. Check diff for leaks. If these things leak where the cover sits, fine, gasket to replace. If they leak where shafts come out you have some tearing down to do to change seals. Check brakes for leaks. If you can check pads and discs if they have meat to them. Check leaks with white cotton or paper wipes. Check any lines for corrosion. Check rubber lines for cracks. Check struts for leaks
    Check for rust. Use your flashlight. Rusty outer sills can be done on a budget. Rusty areas around rails are too much for a beginner. Move inner arches away as much as you can. Check rails above wheels, where struts go. Check rear subframe mounting points.

    Before you turn the engine off (or run it again), check how the car stops. If it shakes violently when turning it off check for engine and gear box mount wear and if the flywheel is dual mass that can be the culprit. Also check if it smokes anything white or blue or grey. Open the bonnet, listen to the engine running warm and close. If there are any noises you haven't heard on a similar engine before, problem unless you meant to dear it down and rebuild anyway. Turn engine off, check all belts for cracks. Check fan if it is whole. Check for exposed or unoriginal wires. Check for illegal mods. Check for leaks up top. Check for rust down on the rails left and right of the engine. When i is a tad cooler check the oil cap for white residue or sludge. Could be head gasket failure or irregular oil changes.

    Now most importantly when buying an old car that you are buying for performance. Check compression. Invest (or borrow) in a compression tester. A proper crew in one with different sizes. Learn how to use it and perform a compression test on the car when warm. People disregard this too often. Compression should be healthy and pretty much the same across all cylinders. It is as easy as spark plug out, test, spark plug in, repeat on other. This could mean sidewall or piston ring failure and later a tear down for you. Little USB cameras that you hook up to your laptop exist. Maybe bring that and check cylinder walls for scratches, also makes it easier to check behind engine and in tight areas under the car.

    I probably forgot something, but if you do this you are doing a lot as is. When you get to an estimate how much repairs would cost, then decide if you are purchasing or not. As for the rust... You will find it on an old nissan. Just decide is it something that can be taken care of easily or something that you can drive around safely and forget about. Just know, rust is ALWAYS withotu exceptions worse than it looks. And forget about tearing the shell down for a full restoration. It is simply too expensive and the car not rare enough to be worth it.

    You will find mistakes on the car. Even a newer one. Just be sure the mistake you find is something you can either live with, can afford to have others repair if you can't or can repair yourself. Do your homework on the car when you decide it is the model you are after. Check healthy cars, talk to owners, get in facebook groups, learn common faults, know expected compression etc.

    Get a car that is healthy to begin with, needs nearly no work after above examination, because you will see things will pop up later and you wil have plenty do anyway. If you want to really get your hands dirty and have a proper project, I suggest you find a really immacculate shell, source an engine and go from there. This is something that is within your financial reach and something you can do yourself with basic tools. Rather buy tools for a project you can finish than a project that will never be finished anyways. Tools stay for the next one. Upgrade project difficulty with your knowledge and skills. Your taste will change too. Needs as well.

    300ZX as such might be a bit too much for a beginner, especially a beat up one. Try 240SX if you want a RWD nissan. Compared to 300ZX it is simpler and there are more of thm around. Otherwise my advice in general is to begin with a FWD car and progress from there. hings might not be so in US.
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